Fantasy Hoops: Five biggest Fantasy disappointments
Where did your Fantasy Hoops season go wrong? Juan Blanco nominates five suspects, starting with Elfrid Payton.
Where did your season go wrong? Here are five suspects, starting with ...
Payton came into the 2017-18 campaign fresh off career highs in points (12.7), shooting percentage (47.1 percent), field goal attempts (11.1) and rebounds (4.7) in 2016-17, and he'd also equaled a career high with 6.5 assists per game. Surrounded by a young core that included Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic, another step up was definitely conceivable, particularly since the 2014 first-round pick had improved his shooting in each season.
Ultimately, while Payton's season hasn't been a colossal failure, he's actually taken a step back in multiple categories, and he seems to only be sliding further during a critical juncture for Fantasy owners. His move from the Magic to the Suns at the trade deadline appeared to initially be a plus, but Payton has often been outplayed by backup Tyler Ulis lately, while being blanked or posting single-digit scoring totals in six of the last 10 games. Perhaps a full offseason in the Suns' system -- assuming he signs a new deal -- will help him get back on track, but as far this season goes, Payton was unable to demonstrate the type of progress he had over his first three seasons.
Bradley's offseason move from the Celtics to the Pistons wasn't necessarily supposed to be a downgrade for his Fantasy prospects; on the contrary, there seemed to be a tangible opportunity for him to take another leap forward, considering he was slated to start on a unit that seemed to have less overall scoring punch than the one in Boston. Last season, Bradley averaged career highs in scoring (16.3), rebounds (6.1), assists (2.2) and made 3s (2.0).
Accordingly, things appeared to be going swimmingly for the first month-plus until a groin injury just prior to Thanksgiving. That would prove to ultimately prove to be a lingering problem, as Bradley went on to miss seven games in mid-to-late December. It resurfaced in a few games later in mid-January, and although he continued fighting through it, Bradley played only six games for the Clippers following a Jan. 29 trade. Bradley never suited up following the All-Star break, leaving owners who'd hung on to him through his health issues in a bind. The Clippers' fast-paced attack would have served his Fantasy outlook well, but he never had a chance to truly acclimate and play at full health.
Leonard's season has been a complete washout, and even if he were to manage to return for the postseason, it won't do any good for those who invested a premium pick on him last fall. A quad injury that seemed benign enough initially was eventually revealed to be caused by tendinopathy, a condition that can be somewhat challenging to treat. That's proven to be the case with the multi-time All-Star, who's only been able to suit up for nine games all season.
Making Leonard's case even more confounding is that there's been multiple conflicting reports about his potential return date and overall condition throughout the season. That's made it nearly impossible for owners to bite the bullet and cut bait, just in case he were to return. Coming off what was a career-high 25.5 points per game during the 2016-17 season, Leonard's ADP had been at an apex coming into the season, making the entire situation all the more costly, from a Fantasy perspective.
Even with the offseason addition of Chris Paul, Anderson was still expected to play a much more substantial role than what he's ultimately seen this season. The veteran floor spacer has been a dud for the majority of the campaign, seeing his scoring average drop from 13.6 to 9.7 points per game, while his shot attempts have declined from 10.7 to 7.6 per game, as well.
Following a nine-game, post-All-Star-break absence due to a hip injury, Anderson has been unable to regain his starting job, ceding that role to fellow vet P.J. Tucker for the time being. To top it off, he's further capped his production by shooting a career-low 77.8 percent from the free-throw line after shooting 85 percent or better in five of the previous six seasons.
Sometimes Fantasy disappointment is measured not so much in terms of a drop in numbers, but rather the discrepancy between what was expected, in terms of year-over-year improvement, and what actually transpired. That would describe Turner's case, considering he'd shown vast improvement from his rookie season to his sophomore campaign by boosting his numbers across the board. The improvement was supported by the 2015 first-round pick's diverse skill set, and naturally, even bigger things were expected coming into his third season while playing in a starting five that had received a nice talent boost with the addition of Victor Oladipo.
Instead, Turner has taken a step back in scoring (13.3 PPG, down from 14.5), rebounding (6.7 RPG, down from 7.3) and shooting (48.7percent down from 51.1), and he seems to actually be fading during the Fantasy postseason for many of his owners. Turner has scored in single digits in five of the last seven contests and has shot an appalling 26.1 percent over his last five games. Health has been an issue, as well, as a concussion and elbow injury have conspired to cost him 16 games overall over the course of the campaign.
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